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EBB Program – Frequently Asked Questions

Find answers to common EBB Program Questions Below

EBB Program and Lifeline

Q. Can a consumer (or household) receive benefits from both Lifeline and the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program?

A. If a consumer qualifies for both programs, they are eligible to receive both the Lifeline and EBB Program benefits.

Q. Can the Lifeline and EBB Program benefit be applied to the same service?

A. Yes. If the consumer qualifies for both the Lifeline and EBB Program benefit, the benefits can be applied to the same service, up to the total cost of the service. For example, a consumer whose home broadband service costs $29.25 per month could apply the $9.25 Lifeline benefit and a $20 EBB Program benefit to cover the cost of their broadband service. The full Lifeline discount must be applied first and the remainder will be offset by the EBB Program benefit, up to the monthly benefit limit.

Q. Can consumers receive the Lifeline benefit from one service provider and the Emergency Broadband Benefit from another?

A. Yes, if a consumer qualifies for both programs, they can choose to receive the Lifeline benefit from one provider and the Emergency Broadband Benefit from another.

Getting Started as an EBB Provider

Q. My company is an ETC, do I need to do anything to participate in the EBB Program?

A. ETCs must complete the USAC EBB Program election process. This includes completing the EBB Program election form, submitting the required documentation, and being approved for participation. That process is detailed on USAC’s website.

Q. My company is not an ETC, can I participate in the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program?

A. Yes. The FCC has established an approval process to allow service providers who are not Lifeline ETCs to participate in the EBB Program. Once the FCC has approved a service provider, they must complete the EBB Program election process with USAC.

Q. How do new EBB Program service providers access NLAD and the National Verifier?

A. After a new service provider completes the election process with USAC, USAC will send instructions to access the NLAD and National Verifier staging environments (before the program goes live) and production environments (once the program is live).

Q. Are service providers required to provide EBB Program service or devices?

A. No, participation in the EBB Program is voluntary.

Q. Can I use the Lifeline Study Area Codes (SACs) for the EBB Program?

A. No, USAC will assign new SACs for the EBB Program.

Q. Do my representatives need to get new Rep IDs for the EBB Program?

A. No. Representatives who have already registered in RAD do not need to register again.

Q. How do I elect to participate in the EBB Program?

A. Service providers can follow these steps:

Q. Should providers include affiliates in the election notice if they’re not sure the affiliate will participate, or leave them out and revise later?

A. Applicants should only include affiliates in the election notice they know are participating in the program. To the extent applicants need to update data in the election notice that populates the public tool (Companies Near Me) displaying who and where they are participating, they should contact USAC to revise.  This process will prevent USAC from displaying an affiliate that is not participating in the program.

Q. Should a provider file an election notice with USAC if it still has an alternative verification process (AVP) under FCC review, and follow up later after AVP is approved?

A. As long as the provider has gotten the FCC approval to participate or is eligible to participate due to ETC status, it can file its election notice while the AVP is under review. It does not need to wait for AVP approval from the FCC to file its election notice. Once the provider receives the AVP approval, it can provide it to USAC to update its system access.

Consumer Enrollment

Q. Can a service provider enroll all of their Lifeline subscribers in the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program?

A. Service providers must obtain affirmative consent from all consumers prior to enrolling them in the EBB Program.

Q. What kind of documentation do service providers need to collect to show consumers requested or consented to enroll in the EBB Program?

A. For existing subscribers of the service provider, service providers need to collect documentation demonstrating that the consumer received disclosures about the EBB Program and that the consumer provided affirmative consent to apply their Emergency Broadband Benefit to the service received from the service provider. Service providers will not need to retain any such documentation for new subscribers.  Service providers must also obtain consent from each new and existing subscriber consent to transmit the subscriber’s information to the NLAD.

Q. If a provider does not participate in the EBB Program, can their consumers participate?

A. Yes, consumers can request EBB Program benefits from a provider that participates in the EBB Program. Consumers can request EBB Program service from any participating service provider – they are not required to stay with their existing provider.

Q. What qualifies as a substantial loss of income?

A. Substantial loss of income refers to consumers who lost their jobs or were furloughed from their job. To qualify for the EBB Program, consumers must have experienced this loss of income after February 29, 2020 and had a total household income of at or less than $98,000 for single filers and $198,000 for joint filers.

Q. Can consumers in NLAD opt-out states participate in the EBB Program?

A. Yes. Consumers in NLAD opt-out states are eligible for the EBB Program. If the consumer receives Lifeline, the service provider can enroll the consumer through NLAD. New consumers can apply through the National Verifier or a service provider’s alternative eligibility process.

Q. Does the EBB Program impose a port freeze on consumers?

A. No, consumers are not subject to a port freeze.

Q. When can a provider begin to collect from its existing consumers their consent to enroll them in the EBB Program?

A. A provider cannot seek and obtain informed consent from an existing subscriber to apply their Emergency Broadband Benefit to broadband service received from the provider until the provider’s election notice is approved by USAC.  Any communications sent to or shared with the consumers before the start date of the Program should include a notice that the EBB Program has not yet started.

Q. Is a customer’s verbal consent sufficient for documenting compliance with the EBB Program’s consent requirements?

A. A provider may accept a verbal signature under § 54.1612 of the EBB Program rules, but the provider must retain a copy of that record to demonstrate program compliance.

Q. Can the provider request a deposit as part of enrollment in the EBB Program?

A. Providers may charge deposits to households provided that such deposits are part of the provider’s generally applicable terms and conditions as of December 1, 2020.  However, one-time deposits cannot be claimed by the provider for reimbursement through the EBB Program.

Q: How can I see which SACs I can enroll subscribers in?

A: Your ability to “see” SACs in NLAD depends on your user role.

  • Form 497 Officer will see the SPINs on their 497 Officer homepage but cannot see SACs in NLAD.
  • ETC Administrators will see the SACs they are assigned on their ETC Admin homepage, if they manage Lifeline SACs. However, we do have a system limitation that prevents EBB SACs from appearing on that page at this time. To see their company’s SACs an ETC Admin should attempt to run a report by going to the Tools and Resources tab (click Tools and Resources > Reports or EBB Reports > Choose any report from dropdown > see dropdown for list of SACs assigned to user).
  • ETC Analysts and Operations users can see SACs that they have access to by running reports under the Tools and Resources tab (click Tools and Resources > Reports or EBB Reports > Choose any report from dropdown > see dropdown for list of SACs assigned to user).
  • ETC Agents can only access NV and their activity in the service provider portal is not SAC-dependent.

Program Sunsetting

Q. How will USAC and/or the FCC inform providers about the available fund remaining?

A. USAC will publish a tracker on its website that displays:

  • The number of EBB Program households enrolled in NLAD
  • The number of new households enrolling each week
  • The total amount of reimbursement claims to date
    • Total reimbursements will be broken down by monthly service support and internet connected device reimbursements.

Q. Will USAC or the FCC alert service providers before the final month of the program?

A. USAC and the FCC will post information about the forecasted final month of the program. USAC and the FCC will aim to post this information at least 60 days in advance of the snapshot date for the final month.

Q. How should service providers handle consumer accounts when the fund runs out? Can they charge consumers for the full (or prorated) costs in the final month of the program?

A. Households must consent to being charged by the provider for more than what they would otherwise pay if the full EBB support they are entitled to was applied to their EBB-supported broadband. If, in the final month, the EBB Program benefit is less than the full amount that household is entitled to, the provider may charge the household the difference as long as the provider obtains the household’s consent to do so.

Q. Can a provider meet both the section 54.1610(c) and 54.1610(d) requirements with a single consumer notice, or are two separate notices required?

A. As the Order describes in paragraphs 128 and 129, the provider must provide households notice of the last service month that the full support amount will be applied to their broadband bill and the last service month for which a partial support amount may apply. This notice is to be sent no later than 15 days after USAC issues its notice about the forecasted end of the program.  As explained in paragraph 116, FCC and USAC will endeavor to provide this notice at least 60 days before the end of the program. The notice in 54.1610(d) is designed to provide notice to subscribers of the upcoming increase in their bills.  There is no requirement that these notices be sent separately, but USAC urges providers to be mindful of the opt-in requirements in paragraph 132 and the Commission’s request that providers have the opportunity to make an informed decision about the continuation of their broadband service absent the EBB Program benefit.

EBB Supported Broadband Service

Q. What are the minimum service standards for the EBB Program?

A. The FCC did not impose minimum service standards for the EBB Program.

Q. Can a provider apply the EBB discount to a video/broadband bundled offering?

A. Video is excluded from EBB support, meaning that the EBB Program benefit cannot be applied to that type of service if included in a bundle. In addition to multi-channel video offerings like cable TV, these video services include video streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, HBO now, YouTube TV, CBS All Access, Disney+, etc. (or you’ll see providers offer them as TV entertainment packages of streaming services included in your plan) offered as part of a bundled offering.  The EBB Program service benefit is a monthly discount applied to an internet service offering and the associated equipment of such offering (and one connected device).  A bundled service offering is an offering of broadband service combined with other services, such as voice, data, texting, and associated equipment. Please also note that the Order does not preclude a provider from applying the EBB discount to the broadband portion of a combined bill where the charges for the video and broadband service are listed as separate charges, or a video/broadband bundle in which the provider can cost allocate the broadband service for reimbursement.

Q. Is associated equipment only eligible for reimbursement if it is rented, or could associated equipment purchased on a monthly installment plan also receive monthly support?

A. If the equipment otherwise qualifies as associated equipment with an EBB-supported broadband service and is offered via a monthly fee rather than a one-time payment, it is eligible for the EBB discount whether it is ultimately rented or owned by the customer.

EBB Connected Devices

Q. How does the internet connected device credit work?

A. Participating broadband service providers can be reimbursed up to $100 if they supply a connected device to a household, as long as the household is charged more than $10 but less than $50 for the device. The device benefit is limited to a laptop, a desktop computer, or a tablet. It does not include cell phones, large phones, or “phablets” that can make cellular calls.

EBB Reimbursement

Q. If a subscriber enrolls in EBB in the middle of the month in a service fully paid for by the EBB discount, and has no data usage before the next snapshot date, can the provider claim that subscriber?

A. No. To claim a subscriber enrolled in the EBB Program in the middle of the month and not assessed a monthly fee for the EBB-supported service, the provider must certify that the household used the service, as defined in § 54.407(c)(2) at least once in the service month being claimed.

Delinquent Subscribers

Can a provider disconnect a subscriber for non-payment while the subscriber is enrolled in the EBB Program?

No, a provider shall not disconnect a household for non-payment associated with the EBB-supported service during the EBB Program.  Upon the conclusion of the EBB Program, the provider could take action for that non-payment consistent with the provider’s terms and conditions.

Can a provider downgrade a subscriber’s service to a lower-priced plan if the subscriber falls behind on their portion of the bill?

EBB Program rules do not prohibit a provider from downgrading a subscriber’s broadband service if the subscriber falls behind on their portion of the bill for the EBB-supported service.  Providers downgrading a customer’s EBB-supported service due to non-payment are urged not to downgrade the EBB-supported service without the subscriber’s knowledge.